Can Jamaica's growing stock of female sprint hurdlers rise to global dominance?

By Kevion Minzie January 29, 2023

For more than a decade now, Jamaica’s women have bossed the 100m.  Veronica Campbell-Brown won Jamaica’s first global 100m gold medal in Osaka in 2007 and since then Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah have basically made the 100m their own with the former winning five world titles and two Olympic titles while Thompson won back to back 100m titles in Brazil in 2016 and 2021 in Tokyo, Japan where she established a new Olympic record of 10.61.

However, with their dominance of the blue-ribbon sprint at its zenith, the women from the land of wood and water seem poised to begin dominating yet another event, the 100m hurdles. Since the 1990s, Jamaica has done reasonably well at the sprint hurdles.

Michelle Freeman was the first Jamaican woman to reach a global final and eventually won won global medals in 1993 and 1997. Dionne Rose and Freeman were Jamaica's first ever Olympic finalists, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively in 1996.

The following year Freeman and Gillian Russell, a 1995 World Championships finalist, went 1-2 at the World Indoor Championships.

Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Delloreen Ennis-London picked up from them with the former winning silver  at the 2003 World Championships, bronze in 2005. Ennis-London won a silver and bronze at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships respectively.

Foster-Hylton made the breakthrough at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin with a fantastic run to give Jamaica gold, Ennis-London won the bronze. Danielle Williams won Jamaica’s second 100m hurdles gold in Beijing 2015 in Beijing and followed with a bronze medal in 2019.

Two years later, Megan Tapper created history for Jamaica when she became the first-ever Jamaican woman to win a medal in the 100m hurdles at an Olympic Games when she captured bronze in Tokyo, Japan.

Then at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Britany Anderson, a finalist in Tokyo in 2021, won silver in the sprint hurdlers.

Tapper and Anderson are among a growing cadre of Jamaican female sprint hurdlers who are among the very best in the world. Among them are Ackera Nugent, the World U20 60m hurdles record holder who opened her 2023 season with a time of 8.00 indoors and Demisha Roswell, who ran a personal best 12.44 and is the fastest Jamaican woman in the world this year over the 60m hurdles with a 7.98 clocking this past weekend.

There is also hope that former national record holder Janeek Brown will make a successful return to the event this season after two years of disruption in her personal life and athletic career. Perhaps, the most talented of the lot is 17-year-old Kerrica Hill, who last year succeeded Nugent as World Under 20 champion and who recently turned professional.

In 2022, Jamaica had four of the 10 fastest women in the world. The USA also had four while Puerto Rico and Nigeria had one each.

 If Jamaica’s women are to reach the pinnacle and find some level of dominance it will require a lot of technical work and consistently fast hurdling to get there but if the 100m women are anything to go by, nothing is beyond their reach.

 

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    Jamaican track & field fans have earned a reputation as some of the most passionate and supportive people you will ever come across and, for British sprint superstar Dina Asher-Smith, seeing it up close and personal at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational on May 11 was a riveting experience.

    Asher-Smith, a proud member of the Jamaican diaspora herself through her father Winston, ran her second-fastest time of the young season, 22.59, to take top spot in the Women’s 200m at the inaugural edition of the meet held at the National Stadium in Kingston.

    The 28-year-old, in a post-race interview, said that, regardless of the result, she felt “blessed” to finally compete in Jamaica.

    “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do forever and ever. I am a part of the Jamaican diaspora around the world,” she said before pointing out that her parents flew in from London to see her compete.

    “I’m just so proud to have come here and, however today would’ve gone, it’s just a blessing to come here and race in Jamaica,” she added.

    The 2019 World 200m champion, in another interview after her race with The Inside Lane, expounded on her experience competing in Jamaica.

    “I’m just so blessed to be in this country and blessed that they support me on that level,” she said.

    “I don’t think I can quite articulate what it means to come to another country and they want you to do well and they’re so happy that you’re here. I think, as an athlete, we all want the medals, we all want the titles, we all want the records but at the same time, it means a lot that people want to see you do well,” she added.

    The British record holder in both the 100m and 200m said the support from fans even extended to off the track, mentioning that Jamaican guests at the hotel she stayed at often referred to her as “cousin” based on her Jamaican heritage.

    “It’s been amazing. I’ve always known that the Jamaican fans are so supportive but being here and seeing it up close like when you’re in the hotel and people also staying there are like ‘cousin, cousin!’ It means so much because when you’ve got your actual roots celebrating you and they like you for who you are, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so amazing.”

     

  • Felt good: Jackson pleased with execution after 200m season opener in Rabat Felt good: Jackson pleased with execution after 200m season opener in Rabat

    Two-time World 200m champion Shericka Jackson was pleased with her execution after finally kicking off her season in the half-lap event at the Rabat Diamond League on Sunday.

    Jackson produced 22.82 to win ahead of Ivorian Maboundou Kone (22.96) and France’s Helene Parisot (23.02) in conditions she described as not ideal for fast sprinting.

    “Felt good. I think I did pretty well tonight. Out here is a bit cold and windy but, nevertheless, I’m healthy and that’s good,” Jackson said in a post-race interview.

    In addition to the weather, Jackson commented on the lack of fans in the stadium to give the athletes a boost, stating that it paled in comparison to last year’s edition of the meet.

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  • Jackson and Clayton shine but Jamaica's men fall short of the podium in Rabat Jackson and Clayton shine but Jamaica's men fall short of the podium in Rabat

    Shericka Jackson and Rushell Clayton showcased their class while being among the winners at Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Morocco.

    Jackson, who made her season debut in the 100m in Kingston on May 4 after a late start to her season, was not at her sharpest in Rabat but good enough to keep the field at bay as she sprinted to victory in 22.82 seconds while running into a headwind of -1.0m/s.

    Maboundou Kone of the Ivory Coast was a close second in 22.96 with Helene Parisot of England in 23.02.

    Earlier, Clayton was more impressive. Coming off an encouraging victory at the Jamaica Athletic Invitational on May 11 when she ran a world-leading 53.72, Clayton once again dominated the first 300m but was closed down by compatriot Shian Salmon along the home stretch. Still, she managed to hold on to win in 53.98. Salmon ran an enterprising race for second place clocking 54.27.

    Anna Ryzhykova ran a commendable 55.09 for third place.

    While fortune smiled on Jamaica’s women, the men were not as fortunate as Rohan Watson was edged out of a podium finish in the men’s 100m dash. The reigning Jamaican champion finished fifth in 10.26. He was credited with the same time as fourth-placed finisher Brandon Hicklin of the USA and was 0.01 behind Great Britain’s Jeremiah Azu, who took third in 10.25.

    There was no doubt about the winner Emmanuel Eseme of Cameroon who crossed first in 10.11 with Canada’s Andre Degrasse finishing in second place in 10.19.

    Yohan Blake ran a season’s best 10.41 while being eighth.

    In the men’s discus, Travis Smikle once again exceeded 66m but missed out on a podium position. He finished fourth with his best throw of 66.03m. However, he was no match for winner Mykolas Anelka. The newly minted world record holder produced an impressive throw of 70.70m to win the contest.

    Matthew Denny of Australia finished in the runner-up position with his throw of 67.74m. Olympic and World Champion Daniel Stahl threw 67.49m for third place.

    Fedrick Dacres threw 65.05 for sixth place.

     

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